In this, the Hiker Diary, Buke Wang will introduce you to places in Shenyang by words and pictures. They are not necessarily all landmarks but guaranteed to be charming and good for half-day tours. Instead of locating them clearly, the Hiker Diary will only give some hints, so that readers can do some exploring of their own. Go look for these places after reading the post, and enjoy your experiences there.
About me, the author!
If you look at it in Chinese, Wang Buke sounds like an awkward and childish Chinese name made by a foreigner for himself. However, this Wang Buke is the name of a Shenyang local, who, after years of education and working in Xiamen, England, and Beijing, came back to his hometown and started working for the foreign affairs department of Shenyang’s local government, Credit Suisse, and the EU Chamber of Commerce. Now, I am co-owner of Landing East, offering one-stop living support services, housekeeping, and civil affairs consulting for foreigners, and business consultancy services in tax, government relations, and expat affairs for foreign companies in Shenyang.
I see myself as a doer, full of passion and hobbies. I have loved writing and cross-culture geography since my childhood, and combine them together with the deep love for my hometown Shenyang. That is how the idea for the Hiker Diary was born: I have been photographing and writing about Shenyang for dozens of years, and my works have come into a portfolio of hundreds of articles and numerous photos which record the small but interesting places hidden in the back streets, even unfamiliar or unknown for the locals but all rich in culture and charms. So have a look at my ‘Hiker Diary’ introducing the versatile face of Shenyang which you hardly see on postcards or read about in tourism books.
Preface and Episode 1.
The ancients were all hikers. Not everyone had a horse, so they just walked. If someone dreamed of getting a post at court, he needed to survive a several-month hike and reach the capital firstly, usually alone, then secondly, to excel in the national exam. Those equipped by plenty education and intelligence but who barely had their health or outdoor skills would fall down somewhere on the road, and those who finally succeeded were all masters at survival like Bear Grylls. Somehow, in historical films, the intellectuals and civil officers always look delicate or even feminine. This picture couldn’t be more wrong.
Modern technology brings huge convenience and coziness to us, which is something beyond the ancients’ wildest imagination, but many things they could manage are already beyond our ability. Certainly, no one would like to ask for comfortlessness. The ancients had no choice, and we just no longer need to face those trials and tribulations. What we are faced with instead is excessive modernism, and it weakens our chins. When facing primitive and coarse difficulties, or a situation that requires us to roll up our sleeves immediately and take action, we behave more and more hesitant and resigned.
I happen to be a person who always likes to ask for comfortlessness. I love to walk or cycle through my beloved hometown Shenyang, which is messy but jolly, and capture those small charms I see on the road by camera and later by pen. In the Shenyang dialect, people like me are described as having ‘wild feet’. For decades, my wild feet covered so many places in Shenyang, and I never stopped my exploring. As the city develops, the change not only happens on the city itself, but also the people living in it – their habits, way of dressing, daily language, and even physical appearance. Photographing is not enough to catch them all, so I write as well. I measure the land with my feet, catch the flashy moments of normal people’s lives, and have spontaneous talks with people I meet on the road. Hiking brings me something more than enjoyment. It shapes my character.
Calling myself hiker, I comb the streets and lanes in this city. I once wandered in 724, a self-sufficient conglomerate centering on a historical military factory, for three days in a row looking for the last Japanese Tori gate (entrance of Japanese Shrines) remaining in Shenyang. I climbed on top of the main building of No.1 hospital, so that I could take a bird’s view picture of my high school. I zigzagged in the last shack community of the old central Mukden city in the Forbidden City (故宫, Gu Gong) area, being questioned again and again by the residents who thought me so suspicious, but I finally found an old door plate reading ‘The Prince Su Lane’ (Prince Su, 肃亲王 was a Manchu nobleman).
I tried everything to enter the compound of Shenyang Plum Gourmet Powder Factory (a state-owned food giant survived the planning economy till today) while it was being demolished so that I could take some last pictures of this city symbol belonging to the memories of an older generation. I have more and more such interesting experiences and I write them down in my Hiker Diary in my very own style. Today, I am still hiking, and my diary is still expanding.
Finally, I always suggest to check out those places non-motorized. All those wonderful things you miss by sitting behind the steering wheel will come back to you when walking and cycling.
I will use the Landing East blog, WeChat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter presence to impart some of the entries into my hiker’s diary to you. Feel free to share this and them with friends and family and don’t forget to connect with us on all social media accounts.
Also, let us know in the comments whether you would be interested in a “live” hiker diary event. I could show you a very different side of my hometown Shenyang through a hike to a lesser-known part of the city!
Written by Buke Wang